Hamlet and Ophelia Comparison

Essay by NatsukoHigh School, 12th gradeA+, December 2003

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Hamlet and Ophelia are linked by many common characteristics, not

the least of which is their madness. While Hamlet's madness seems to

be feigned, Ophelia is truly crazy. The odd thing about their

predicament is that they each drive each other more fully into the

depths of illness.

One of Hamlet's most famous lines is when he tells the Queen: "Seems,

madam? Nay, it is. I know not 'seems.'" Hamlet is saying that he does

not know what it is to pretend, he only knows what it is to be. This is the

main question surrounding Hamlet in the play, is he feigning his

madness, or is it real? After confronting the Ghost, Hamlet tells his friends

that he is going to act mad in public, and that they should not worry for

he is not really crazy at all. There is a common belief in these days that

when someone tells a lie and firmly believes it they start to live that lie.

Maybe this is true with Hamlet- he acts truly mad in public (even his

mother believes it) that possibly he acts mad in private too.

After Polonius tells Ophelia to repel Hamlet's letters, Hamlet enters

Ophelia's room and looks at her with such a piteous and saddened

face that even Ophelia begins to think there is something wrong with

him. Shortly after that Hamlet encounters Polonius in a corridor and

harasses him and says crazy things. In an aside Polonius says, "Though

this be madness, yet there is method in't." In another famous line,

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern ask Hamlet about his madness, and he

replies, "I am but mad north-north-west. When the wind is southerly I know

a hawk from a handsaw."

In the beginning Hamlet says he does not know how to pretend, so...